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Richardson quits presidential race

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By Carol A. Clark

SANTA FE – A year on the road and some $22 million later, Gov. Bill Richardson drops out of the race for the White House saying, “I gave this race the best I had.”He called it quits Thursday in front of a crowd of supporters and state employees packed into the rotunda at the state capitol. “It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.”Richardson expressed disappointment that, “as with too many things in our world today, it’s the end of something that garners the most intense interest and speculation,” referring to the media frenzy over his resignation and their seeming lack of interest during his campaign.The governor told the crowd he knew from the beginning the race would be an uphill climb, adding that it was clear the Democrats had the most talented field of candidates.Richardson declined to endorse any of them at this time. He plans to work for the winner of the primary election to help get them elected to the White House.After participating in 24 debates in the last 12 months, Richardson said it felt like 200. He also was outspent 10-to-1, he said.Despite the overwhelming financial and political odds, the governor said he is proud of his campaign and the influence it had on the issues that matter most to the future of America.“A year ago, we were the only major campaign calling for the removal of all our troops from Iraq within a year,” Richardson said. “We were the only campaign calling for a complete reform of education in this country ... and we were the campaign with the most aggressive clean energy plan and most ambitious standards for reducing global warming. Now all the remaining candidates are coming to our point of view.”The Richardson campaign raised more than $22 million with 68,000 donors and boasted a multi-state organization of hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers, he said. He had organizing steering committees in 36 states and was on the ballot in 42 states.“And we worked harder than anyone,” Richardson said. “Boy, did we work hard. And we did our best – and that’s all we can expect from each other.”Richardson said he is returning to the job that he loves, serving a state he cherishes and doing the work of the people he was elected to serve. He also plans to continue his international missions to advance the cause of human rights and democracy, he said. He also told the audience he plans to “work hard to make Tom Udall the next U.S. senator from New Mexico.” Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., joined Richardson and First Lady Barbara Richardson in the rotunda Thursday.In concluding the press conference, Richardson said, “I am the luckiest man I know. I am married to my high school sweetheart. I live in a place called the Land of Enchantment. I have the best job in the world and I just got to run for president of the United States.”